While a dad was carrying his 6-year-old daughter, who was about to go through her 7th round of chemotherapy, a man suddenly yelled at him to stop carrying his “lazy” child. The dad was immediately tempted to scream back at the man, but what he did instead left the nasty stranger crying in the middle of the street.
Brent Gehring was leaving the Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts, with his 6-year-old daughter Emma one evening when a stranger’s rude remarks left him stunned. The father and daughter duo had just finished a dinner that was donated to them by an “amazing business and friend that has been in our ‘family’ for years,” Brent explained, but the uplifting evening would take a turn, thanks to the rude stranger.
As Brent crossed the street, he carried Emma in his arms. You see, Brent has had to watch his daughter battle cancer for most of her life. The brave youngster, who was set to start her seventh round of chemotherapy for a brain tumor, can’t walk without the use of her walker. Of course, a man, who was 30 feet away as Brent carried his frail daughter in his arms, didn’t know this as he yelled, “What the f*ck? Make her walk. That’s what is wrong with kids today!”
That’s when Brent realized he had a choice. He could make himself feel better by screaming back at the rude stranger or he could teach him something about life. “I won’t lie to you and tell you that it was an easy choice, but I got inches from his face, with my daughter in my arms, and quietly asked him if he was referring to my daughter. ‘Hell yes,’ he said,” Brent recalled in a Facebook post.
“My daughter has been carrying my faith and my strength for the past 5 years since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She can’t walk but I am happy to carry her because of all the amazing things she has taught me through the years. So, I would advise you not address my daughter in any way other than respectful,” Brent boldly responded.
“I won’t tell you the rest of the story but it ended with two grown men with tears rolling down their faces. One that needed to have his eyes opened to what real life and real love is and one that is always needing a reminder that good can come from any situation,” the father added.
Brent didn’t just share his story on Facebook to simply recall what happened. The purpose was much deeper than that. “What I am asking is for a change in today’s world,” Brent wrote, “a change in the way we think.” He continued, “The world is what we as people make it. We have the power to make days better or worse for others. I choose to attempt to make lives better.”
Then, he explained why this story is important: It serves as a reminder that we don’t always know the whole story when we see someone and immediately jump to a conclusion. There aren’t many of us who walk down the street without making some kind of judgment about complete strangers, often without stopping to consider why. It’s human nature to assess the situations around us and form an opinion. But, sometimes, we are so greatly mistaken.
“So, don’t judge others,” Brent warned. “You have the power to make people’s days better or worse. What did you do today? What will you do tomorrow?” he asked. “I promise you this, through hell and high water, Emma has made each and every day of my life a blessing. I praise God for bringing her into my life. Emma, you are perfect just as you are, and we will help carry you through chemo #7.”
As humans, we reason. We collect information, we form opinions, and we draw conclusions. This is how we determine right and wrong. We judge behavior, circumstances, and actions. That’s not a problem. However, we must be careful to show compassion and discernment. It’s not fun to be on the receiving end of bad judgment, like Brent and his daughter.
Regardless of the conclusion that we come to when we see a stranger on the street, shouting at and berating them is never the appropriate response. Thankfully, instead of responding in anger, Brent decided to teach the man the error of his ways, and the end result was pretty amazing since it provided a much-needed reminder for the rest of us too. We should draw our conclusions humbly and our judgments should be made with the intent of helping others, not elevating ourselves. In everything, we must be motivated by love.